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Lightwave Sabre C review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jasonbraatz, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    first off, sorry, no digicam = no pics for the time being. i'll try to hook something up soon.

    i managed to snag one of the last of the factory ebay blowout basses. paid $450 plus shipping on a $1600 bass. :D i had never even played a lightwave before, but for the price, i figured it was worth a shot.

    It's the sabre C, which has a 4 piece ash body (two bookmatched halves with an ebony veneer in between them.) mine is a 5 string fretless with a maple fingerboard. i can't believe how light and well balanced this bass is - it can't be more than 7-8 lbs.

    it plays really great. the neck profile is surprisingly warwick-esque / stocky. spacing isn't that wide at the nut, and very comfortable at the bridge. i was worried about it being a maple fingerboard, but it's finished with something hard and feels quite nice. the only thing i don't like is the lack of anyplace to rest my thumb, but i'll install a thumbrest soon.

    This bass sounds >RIDICULOUS.< (or, it did once i fixed it - keep reading) Very expressive, tons of tonal variation, although the controls aren't particularly intuitive. (Volume, Bass, Mid, Midshift, Piezo blend, and a voicing switch - it was fine once i read the manual but something has to be pretty weird to require that.) I can get a nice uprighty tone, a gary willis bridge pickup tone, or some seriously deep bassy tones without ever losing clarity.

    my only beef with this bass is the construction, which i'm guessing / hoping comes from this being a preproduction / initial run of basses. when i first fired up the bass it was crackly, thin sounding, intermittant, and then just died. needless to say i wasn't happy, and opened up the cavity to see a completely dead solder joint going to the volume pot. easily fixed, but also should have been easily checked. there are also some finish flaws, a few little dings that i wouldn't expect on a brand new bass, the tuners are too close together, the double dot position markers aren't straight, if you touch the edge of the hole where the charger plugs in with the charger plug it SPARKS!!!!, the fingerboard is a little wavy on the side of the neck towards the nut, and the flame veneer on the headstock looks to have been sanded through on the edges, exposing the ebony veneer and making it look dirty. also, if you plan on doing any slapping, the volume knob is WAY too close to the strings.

    other than that though, the bass is put together well where it counts. neck joint nice and tight, good hardware, seemingly good materials.

    all in all, for $450 i'm ECSTATIC. would i pay $1600 for this bass? no. however, were i given the option, and if all the crap i mentioned was fixed in the second run, i would probably pay around 1000 for a hollowbody 5 string fretless with ebony board. i'd say it sounds as good (just different) and plays nicer (no neck dive or wide neck) than my thumb 6 fretless did - but you could definitely tell the thumb is worth much more in the construction and materials area.

    if a really nice, affordable fretless 5 string streamer pops up, it would be a tough call though ;)

    hope that helps anyone thinking about buying one of these. :ninja:
  2. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    bumping this once incase anyone cares. i may buy a digicam tonite so pics should be coming real soon.
  3. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    on mine... the action was 1/2" off the board. it too, had intermittant signal but only on the E and B strings. i could not adjust the action or intonation easily (it was not well intonated) and the strings that did have output sounded synthy and artificial (to my ears like a cheap active low-ender). also, mine had no manual to tell me what each knob did and had a heck of a time finding anything usable out of those three working strings. i could not escape that synth sound despite a full charge and carefully adjusting each knob to different settings. needless to say, it did feel like a cheap bass to me and although i did love the neck, i packed it up and shipped it back to its home... to me, it was just not worth figuring out. the customer service was excellent though! :)

    from now on, i'll just stick to mainly passives i think... ;)
  4. Sounds like you got a good deal, Jason. The part about the sparking worries me though. :eek:

    It's fretless, so I definitely want to see pix.

    Good luck with it.

  5. Yggdrasil


    Aug 16, 2001
    I got one of the Sabre A's - semi-hollow - the sound is rich & full, but I don't like the roundwounds that came with it. Mine is fretted & I find the "fret clank" annoying. I also find that it is super sensitive to any finger noise.

    I had a heck of a time getting even volume over the strings, especially using their motherboard LED system; finally I set it up with laBella Deep Talkin' tapewounds ; I set the string volume by ear , just adjusting string height & it seems fine now. the labellas have less fret clank.(To be fair, my Turner Model 1 had the same sort of fret noise, esp. on Piezo, until the strings settled in after a few weeks)

    I had no trouble with intonation - it was perfect as it came & I haven't touched it.

    Outside of the finger noise, the sound is deep & rich & clear at the same time - even has some of that Casady Sig fullness to it(maybe the semi-hollow has something to do with that?). The neck is easy to play, it is light; the batteries last, and the finish has a few superficial blemishes that don't really detract much, in the light of the "satin" finish.

    I think these are a bargain at the current ebay "demo" prices.
  6. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    what i don't understand is if it "sees" the strings vibration, semi-hollow should have nothing to do with the overall tone of the instrument. one would think so, i don't know... also, mine had terrible feedback when close to the amp, even with my right hand muting it (and not muting it for the record) and turned away from the speaker. it was a hornless avatar 115, hardly a treble monster... so how does it "see" the soundwave coming through the air? i guess i just got a bad one? :confused: anyhoo... i'm happy that you guys like yours. ;) :D
  7. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I would say that semi-hollow would make an equal difference on a lightwave as on a magnetic pickup equipped bass. The magnetic pickups sense the same vibration that a lightwave pickup would. The strings vibration is changed by the differing bodies, so I would say that it should be the same.

  8. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    i suppose so. i guess it is more of a regular piezo than i had expected/hoped for... :confused:
  9. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    I got one of the 5-string Classica prepro models for $450. On mine the only problems were cheap tuners and low volume on the G-string. Overall, its the growlliest(?) bass I own. The neck feels good and I'm still getting use to 5-strings. I'd place the value on this bass, made as it is, between $600-$800. It came with DiAddario(?) strings I replaced with Blue Steels. The wow factor is impressive. I was able to stun the guys at the guitar shop I frequent; they had never seen one and were shocked at it lightness.
  10. todd 4ta

    todd 4ta

    Apr 3, 2003
    I got one of the Sabre B fretless 4's. Mine came with black tapewound strings, and fortunately the pickup and intonation where all setup well out of the box. For some reason, mine came without strap buttons (just an oversight I guess) but I just drilled the holes and added some with no problem. The guy at Lightwave was going to send some, but I think he forgot.

    On the searches I did for info, it seemed pretty consistent that folks didn't like roundwounds on the fretless lightwaves, and I think tapewounds were getting good reviews. I would have to agree. So far I like it.

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